With the Federal Reserve today moving away from zero with a 25 basis point move, has anything changed my view that bond yields will stay lower for longer? I don't think it has. 2016 should be a very interesting market environment

I have 80% of my personal assets in private equity - and I plan to increase that to roughly 100%. I don’t have many other good ideas as to what to do in this environment.

Slides and video from my narrative at IMCA Conference 2015 "Innovate... disrupt or be disrupted".

With just an App, your smartphone can challenge an entire industry segment. Yet in investment management, superannuation and retail wealth management, we continue to do things much the way we did in the past. It is doubtful things will remain this way for long.

Crisis and Complexity explores over a dozen economic and financial catastrophes since 1720, focusing on both the unique characters and historical events that shaped each crisis as well as their common recurring pattern.

Turmoil often provides a fantastic opportunity to reassess one's portfolio - and we're currently going through exactly such turmoil. The question is: what are the critical issues that investors should focus on as they rethink portfolio positioning today?

The last few weeks have felt like riding on that old, antiquated rollercoaster – unexpected turns, harsh stops and, frankly, no clear sense of when the ride was going to end. Why have markets reacted so sharply, and what's ahead?

PortfolioConstruction Forum Strategies Conference 2015 featured a carefully selected faculty of more than 35 international and local portfolio construction experts offering their best high conviction ideas about critical portfolio "crossroads". Here are the highlights.

PortfolioConstruction Forum publisher, Graham Rich, shares a few words to wrap up Conference 2015...

Our eclectic Panel - a politician, a pastor, a professor, a portfolio manager, a practitioner, a provocateur, and a 'preneur, moderated by our Publisher - addresses Conference 2015 delegates' questions about key Crossroads, Dilemmas and Decisions.

1.25 CE

Cognitive functioning declines as we age, affecting financial decision making. Practitioners need an increased awareness about issues relating to aging and cognitive decline.

Joanne Earl | 0.50 CE

A recent survey of 1000 Australian investors found that individuals who are advised have greater confidence in their retirement readiness and a heightened awareness of the retirement strategies and solutions available.

The danger that “sequence of return risk” can devastate a retirement portfolio is both increasingly recognised and frequently misunderstood. Three concrete, research-driven strategies can help manage it.

Michael Kitces | 1.00 CE

Portfolio construction specialists face a new set of challenges. What matters is the ability to deliver a robust and predictable outcome. This requires institutional capabilities.

Going forward, there are headwinds for equity and fixed income markets, however the outlook for alpha generation from many alternative strategies remains robust. Now is an attractive point in the cycle to add, or increase exposure to alternative strategies.

While 36% of investors say they are ‘reviewing their need for downside protection’, only 8% are currently implementing it. Yet there are many strategies to manage risk in portfolios.

High active share is often profiled as “better” but it creates a dilemma – portfolios can exhibit risk concentrations which may lead to volatile return streams for investors. Low active share funds should not be excluded from asset allocators’ tool kit.

The smooth sailing of Australian equities over the last few years has developed complacency among investors. But rougher seas ahead will require a more active approach. It’s time to ensure that you engage a truly active manager.

A better way to evaluate companies and portfolios is to consider where companies do business, not where they are headquartered. It is time to invest beyond borders.

By avoiding unrewarded risk and by avoiding going against other factors, the risk return profile of factor investing portfolios can be improved further.

At the heart of defensive investing lies infrastructure assets - but only only in its purest form is infrastructure able to deliver the defensive qualities that investors are targeting.

Investors face five dilemmas on which judgments need to be made with respect to: earnings, valuations, momentum, reinvestment and sentiment.

As volatility in bond markets becomes more pronounced, and asset bubbles develop, investors will need to reassess their approach to the asset class. Unconstrained bond investors can exploit opportunities across relative value, yield curve and fixed income volatility.

Our panel debated the views of the two presenters who addressed this "crossroad" - that boutique investment managers outperform and that smart beta is dumb.

0.50 CE

Smart beta's popularity has swept not only the ETF world but academia too. Yet there is academic debate about whether smart beta produces alpha, risk-adjusted performance or only beta, a premium for bearing risk.

Michael Edesess | 0.50 CE

While the debate over the value of active management has intensified in recent years, the outperformance of boutique managers has been overlooked. Active boutique managers have consistently outperformed both non-boutique peers and indices over the past twenty years.

The reformist credibility of the Chinese government has been severely damaged by its market intervention, which could be very serious for the ongoing transformation of the world’s most populous nation.

Jonathan Pain | 0.50 CE

EM policymakers have wasted their commodity-fueled Goldilocks Era and are sitting at a crossroads. Without a dramatic policy shift, EM are a value trap, if not an outright bubble.

Indexing could be as problematic during the next few decades as it has been successful in the past few. This heightens the appeal of active management for those brave enough to pursue it.

Woody Brock | 0.50 CE

It's been almost 24 years since Australia's last recession. It could be said Australia is “due for one”. While it would be foolish to say that the chances of a recession in Australia are zero, it's also wrong to say that they are over 50%.

Special one-off factors have underpinned Australia's record expansion. The key to forecasting the next Australian recession lies in forecasting the end of cheap money – if correct, then clearly a major investment crossroad for all Australian residents and investors.

Chris Watling | 0.75 CE

With traditional asset classes expensive and historically low yields on bonds compromising their role as a diversifier, investors are at a crossroads. Investors should be looking for alternative sources of return and genuine diversification.

There are two possible outcomes from the extreme debt levels in the global economy - high inflation or long-term below trend growth. The key dilemma is how to minimise this uncertainty and return dispersion.

Warryn Robertson | 0.75 CE

Recent stock market volatility demonstrates that asset price growth expectations can’t be taken for granted in China, despite intervention from policymakers. The bursting of China’s property bubble poses a major risk to the stability of China and the global economy – and a critical dilemma for investors.

QE has driven a search for yield globally, resulting in a unique Australian experience that has seen the major ASX indices become increasingly concentrated. We are at the crossroads for active Australian equity management.

The US Federal Reserve is (reluctantly) ending a long period of abnormally low rates. Investors should consider flexible benchmark unaware approaches in their fixed income portfolios, to potentially mitigate adverse market conditions going forward.

By understanding our own Time Perspective and learning to recognise different Time Perspectives in others, we can better understand and influence retirement planning behaviour.

Joanne Earl | 0.75 CE

Investors need to be more focused on downside risk management. An environment of lower expected returns and higher volatility means risk management is just as important as return management.

Consumers and the energy industry are at a crossroad. Customer choices are impacting different parts of the energy supply chain, but energy networks themselves are insulated from emerging technologies.

The diverse range of quality small cap companies with recurring earnings and growing dividend yields offer investors essential risk diversification and should be incorporated into portfolios.

Many investors are facing a dilemma with the perceived risk embedded in debt markets as Fed lift-off looms. However, reality beckons - rates will rise and investors can benefit.

Tony Crescenzi | 0.75 CE

Having a clear investment philosophy based on our own belief set - a living document that we evolve and sharpen over time - is the best tool to making investment decisions under uncertainty.

Tim Farrelly | 0.50 CE

The view that investors should leave their values at the door is fundamentally mistaken as both an ethical theory and an investment strategy.

Our panel debated the contrasting views of the two presenters who addressed this "crossroad" - that rates are likely to go higher than most expect over the next three years vs that markets will go on tolerating lower interest rates for far longer.

0.50 CE

The view that markets will go on tolerating lower interest rates for far longer is the more benign, market friendly (almost bullish) outlook than the common thinking that higher interest rates will be good.

With the Fed signalling its intention to raise rates, there is great disagreement about the quantum of rises ahead. Rates are likely to go higher than most expect - and the risk of a material equity market correction is elevated.

Portfolio construction is approaching a crossroads – critical questions must be answered, and critical decisions must now be made.

It is time to properly account for risk characteristics of client’s most valuable asset - their human capital. This isn’t easy to implement and places practitioners in a difficult situation...

Individuals have three types of capital - financial capital (pretty obvious, everybody understands that) as well as human capital and social capital. All three affect our financial and retirement decisions.

Understanding PETS - Political, Environmental, Technological/Scientific, Social - factors is relevant, if not crucial, to us as citizens. But to what extent are they relevant or important to investing?

Will low interest rates be with us for decades? Or are higher rates ahead? Our Academy panel argues the case for "lower for longer" versus "back to higher" - and the implications for portfolios.

PortfolioConstruction Forum Academy challenges and advances portfolio construction knowledge and wisdom. Open to a select group of just 80 senior, experienced portfolio construction practitioners each year, Academy will enable you to continuously develop, test, and validate your portfolio construction philosophy and decision-making framework.

In 2015, currencies will basically drive the outperformance candidates as economies try to steal growth from each other. Plus, there is a decade-long mania candidate - healthcare.

Dr David Lazenby is Chief Finology Officer, PortfolioConstruction Forum. His brief is to oversee PortfolioConstruction Forum’s finology curriculum.

In an age where we have lost one of the pillars of traditional diversification - fixed income - what do you do? You need to stretch portfolios into other areas, including alternative beta.

Divergences in global economic and policy outcomes have important implications for markets around the world. This policy divergence has directly influenced asset prices across the globe with implications for stocks, bonds and currency markets.

China now has to deal with a massive excess supply of property… This is unlikely to be “just another property cycle” in China. The bursting of China’s property bubble poses a major risk to both the country’s stability and the global economy.

In this environment, what’s very important is capital preservation. The problem investors have is that there are very few places to hide. So, while cash may not be king, I think it could end up being a very handsome prince.

If you have a DIMS license, you are required to stress test portfolios. Here are two practical approaches to stress testing, and the strengths and weaknesses of each to help you build your approach to portfolio stress testing.

Tim Farrelly | 0.75 CE

Portfolio construction should focus on three risk buckets – beta, smart beta, and alpha. If not, you run the risk of creating a poorly diversified (that is, over diversified) portfolio – and, worse, a portfolio that costs far more than it should.

Michael Furey | 0.75 CE

Each of our Symposium 2015 DDF presenters gave a 2-minute overview of their high conviction portfolio construction strategy idea.

Rather than large, liquid companies with significant global revenue bases which dominate benchmark allocations, investors should seek exposure to India’s surging local demand…

When combining managers together to form a multi-manager global equity portfolio, investors should still aim to keep active share relatively high.

uilding NZ fixed interest portfolios is harder than it has ever been… Portfolios need to be constructed for the specific needs of clients, which will typically be a combination of liquidity, income, quality, and diversification

At the coal face, engagement between company boards and institutional shareholders can achieve meaningful improvements for all investors. Perseverance and commitment are essential.

The diverse range of quality small cap companies with recurring earnings and growing dividend yields offer investors essential risk diversification and should be incorporated into portfolios.

Investors will need to hunt out alternative sources of yield to meet their investment objectives. All is not lost. Yield can be preserved in a low yield world but investors need to be aware of the risks and trade-offs.

Each panelist outlined which high conviction markets idea from Symposium 2015 day one they agreed with most, and which one they agreed with least.

What return premia - if any - are attached to different types of investment risk? And just how reliable are those premia are in practice? Can the risks be diversified?

Tim Farrelly | 0.50 CE

It’s possible, or more likely probable, that for future generations, our money will run out before our body does. This means that our historical models of accumulation and decumulation will not work for future generations.

As we all brace for lift-off in the key US Federal funds rate, a robust, top-down macro perspective will be even more critical to the success of portfolios than ever.

Jonathan Pain | 0.50 CE

Our Symposium 2015 debated their high conviction ideas on the drivers of, and medium-term outlook for, the New Zealand economy.

0.50 CE

Economic growth has had a lot of bad press recently. But on closer inspection, the objections typically leveled against growth do not stand up to empirical scrutiny.

NZ has plummeted down the global income per capita rankings from third in the 1950s to 23rd in 2015. Successive governments have done little to reverse the decline. Why have we failed to regain our position?

Our Symposium 2015 Faculty debated their high conviction ideas on the drivers of, and medium-term (two to three year) outlook for the markets.

0.75 CE

Despite a genuine desire to invest in New Zealand on behalf of a substantial Australian superannuation fund, after several years of trying, no money has been invested.

For investors, one of the most important events of 2014 was the dramatic collapse in the oil price. The long-term equilibrium price is now likely to be lower. Overall, portfolios must be repositioned for increased volatility.

Nick Langley | 0.50 CE

Returns in defensive equity yield and income sectors have been outsized as bond yields have fallen. Growth sectors have underperformed. But globally, technology shares are cheap on a relative basis.

High and rising house prices in Auckland hog the headlines. Increasingly unaffordable house and land prices result from the collision of two, no doubt individually well-intentioned, sets of policies.

Michael Reddell | 0.50 CE

World-wide low interest rates are not a temporary phenomenon. The world has changed and it is highly likely that the current low rate environment will be with us for decades. Getting used to low rates will be a critical adjustment for all investors to make in the coming years.

Tim Farrelly | 0.50 CE

Slow growth is an old story. The new story is that world is finally beginning to re-balance - a process that unfortunately will take another 20 years. Well-intended policies are causing bubbles and distortions to asset prices.

Robert Gay | 2 comments | 0.50 CE

The outlook for the global economy is unambiguously positive. At long last, all regional economic cylinders are firing in unison and secular stagnation is yesterday's story.

Jonathan Pain | 1 comment | 0.50 CE

PortfolioConstruction Forum Publisher and Symposium NZ 2015 Moderator, Graham Rich, opened Symposium NZ 2015 in his usual thought-provoking (and entertaining) way, highlighting key issues to consider over the jam-packed, marathon program.

Have you ever wondered about why some people plan for retirement and other people don’t? Whether people focus on the past, the present or the future - their Time Perspective - influences their retirement planning behaviour.

Joanne Earl | 1.00 CE

We are reminded daily that the US stock market has achieved record highs between 2009 and today. But the true bull market covers 35 years. What does an understanding it tell us about the future? The answer is: a lot.

Woody Brock | 1.00 CE

Investors often face unknown and even unknowable states of the world. How should we make investment decisions under ignorance?

A behavioural shift by Japan's people from a 20-year deflationary mindset to an inflationary one represents a major opportunity set for investors for many years to come.

Macroeconomic outlooks may differ from where you can receive market returns. The outlook can be summarised in three words - improvement, divergence and decoupling.

The world was shocked by the oil price collapse. Anuraag Shah, who made a fortune betting on a falling oil price, summarised the astonishment - "It's nuts!". Actually, it isn't.

Pippa picked up where she left off in her opening keynote, tying the Markets Summit 2015 proceedings together, summarising her key takeouts, and their implications for portfolios.

In this simulated investment board meeting, our day's 17 international and local Faculty members debated and voted on whether to overweight international equities and underweight Australian equities in portfolios on a two- to three-year view.

In 2014, we witnessed the return of market volatility. With potentially significant market return and volatility, investors should consider portfolio positioning before the fact.

The fourth D confronting investors - the disruptions wrought by technological change. Cash cows, thoroughbred stocks and roll-ups are best placed in a world challenged by the four Ds.

Kate Howitt | 0.50 CE

While demographics will still dominate into the future, energy and automation are quickly rising to be just as important with significant implications for portfolios.

Vimal Gor | 0.50 CE

A currency union absent of full political union is inherently unstable. After the first country exits the eurozone, markets will attack the next most vulnerable. The dominos will fall.

Few opportunities are available today where discounts to intrinsic value outweigh downside risks. Japanese corporations are increasingly embracing ROE and shareholder value.

As its capital markets develop, the macro picture improves, inflation comes under control, and the economy grows, India's credit and rates markets present a compelling opportunity.

Since Q4 2014, oil prices have plunged, currency markets are at war and intraday volatility of stock indices is disturbing. A crisis mode has started. Asset allocators must mitigate risks before this next crisis inevitably hits.

One of the most important events of 2014 for investors was the dramatic collapse in the oil price. Overall, investment portfolios must be repositioned for increased volatility.

Nick Langley | 0.50 CE

The US equity market will disappoint going forward. Global equity investors need to be far less US-centric to capture better returns.

Navigating the lower limbo stick will require more unconstrained investing, greater consideration of the chosen benchmark, and a greater focus on downside risk management.

Lower 'neutral' monetary policy rates across the developed world will continue to serve as an important anchor for the secular valuation of all asset classes.

Robert Mead, PIMCO | 0.50 CE

Emerging markets will face a more challenging economic and financial outlook over the next few years - but systemic risk across the emerging world is lower than before the Asian crisis.

De-leveraging, widening inequality and structural reforms limit growth in developed markets. The US is the most advanced in addressing these challenges.

Ronald Temple | 0.50 CE

Bond markets were once the world's most liquid. Today, trading even $5 million in bonds can be difficult. Managed fund holders must recognize that funds may limit withdrawals and hold larger cash balances.

2015 will be a year of huge uncertainty about the future of the Euro. These uncertainties are likely to pose a fundamental challenge to investing in the Eurozone.

Differentiation is key for emerging markets. Secularly, countries enjoying the rise of consumerism are expected to drive local company earnings above the global norm.

Economic signals are everywhere. By being alert to signals, anyone can start to navigate through the turbulence of the world economy.

PortfolioConstruction Forum Publisher and Markets Summit 2015 Moderator, Graham Rich, opened Markets Summit 2015 in his usual entertaining way, highlighting key issues to consider over the jam-packed, marathon program.

The most important issue for investors is the risk of a US recession in 2016. It would play out to a global recession. There are cyclical, structural and secular forces at work.

2015 has got off to an eventful start - we've seen dramatic changes only five weeks into the year. Here's where I see markets going in 2015. A couple of things really stand out.

PortfolioConstruction Forum Academy Summer Seminar 2015 featured four sessions. This Resources Kit contains the materials for preparing for the Seminar, as well as the presentation slides.

The world economy today is defined by the unwinding, the reversal of several very long-term economic trends - and they have economic and investment implications.

Japan has a history of changing dramatically, often when least expected. As Abe's economic policies and structural reforms spark growth, Japan is well-positioned to reemerge as a global investment force.